Thursday, February 10, 2011

Atlantic City Resident Serving as First African American Editor of Rutgers Law Journal at Rutgers-Camden Law School

CAMDEN -- “Making law review” is an aspiration for ambitious law students who recognize the value of producing journals that showcase cutting-edge legal scholarship and theory.

At the Rutgers School of Law–Camden, Matthew D. Sykes has achieved that goal, and set a milestone in the process: the 24-year-old Atlantic City resident is the first African American to serve as editor-in-chief of the prestigious Rutgers Law Journal.

Currently in his third and final year as a Rutgers–Camden law student, Sykes acknowledges that his editorship at the nationally respected law school offers a positive message. “My position should encourage others not only because of my race, but because of my experiences, which many African Americans share in common,” he explains. “I grew up with a lack of positive role models, ineffective school systems, and a neighborhood where drugs were sold and used at my high school bus stop. I graduated from high school with a C average. Nevertheless, I managed to make it to college and was later admitted to Rutgers School of Law.

“I want to send the message that, if I can do it, anyone can. Moreover, for those who share my background, and those committed to public interest work, my position is significant because it demonstrates that the greatest strength and motivation comes from the desire to help the people that weren’t so lucky, because up to this point that has been my only objective. “

Law reviews are student-run publications that allow scholars (and the occasional jurist or practitioner) to advance discussion about legal theory.
Dating back to the mid-1800s, the practice might seem out of synch in the social media era to some, but not to Sykes. “Law journals provide a forum, other than the classroom, where students can express their ideas and gain recognition based on their original legal scholarship. Likewise, I think law journals are important to the advancement of the study of law specifically because they allow for the exchange of ideas, which is essential to growth and innovation within the legal field.”

At the Rutgers School of Law–Camden, the Rutgers Law Journal publishes online while maintaining a subscription-based print distribution. Rutgers law students review submissions from professors across the nation, and select the articles for publication. Sykes envisions the journal sponsoring symposia featuring top legal scholars as an opportunity to build upon the prestige of the publication.

In addition to setting new standards for the Rutgers Law Journal’s chief editorship, Sykes pursues his passion for public interest law. He has been an active student participant in the Prisoner Reentry Program at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden, whereby law students work closely with attorneys to provide critically needed pro bono services to ex-offenders seeking to forge new roles in society.

Currently, Sykes teaches Camden children and teenagers about their rights and the legal system through the Rutgers–Camden Street Law Program, and helps Camden residents to file their state and federal income tax returns through the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program at the Rutgers–Camden law school.

While helping ex-offenders with such important matters as finding employment and securing new driver’s licenses, Sykes also maintains high marks in the classroom. He is a Dean’s List student at the Rutgers–Camden law school, where he has received numerous scholarships and has been active with the Black Law Students Association. He has been offered a clerkship with the Hon. Dolores Sloviter, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Sykes is a 2008 graduate of Rowan University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science. -30-

For Immediate Release Media Contact: Mike Sepanic (856) 225-6026 E-mail:

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